“So sorry I haven’t seen you, we must catch up. I’ve just been sooooo busy! Let’s catch up soon.”  – How many times will you have that conversation in the next few weeks and months? The start of another year can suddenly bring into sharp relief the relationships where we somehow have not caught up since sometime in 2016.

Here’s the thing. Life has never been busier. But if a relationship is truly important and of value, we will find a way to make time and make it work. Whether we catch up with someone or not says significantly less about the amount of entries in our diary and much more about the inherent value we are placing on spending time with that person.

”I’ve just been so busy!” is the exact same equivalent of “I can’t afford it”.

I can’t afford it means “I’ve chosen to prioritise that spend on the mortgage rather than the shoes”. On the petrol rather than the gig tickets. Or the weekend away rather than the garden supplies. We understand that there is a certain amount of money available and we need to make choices. We say “I can’t afford it”, whereas actually, the truth is a far more empowering “I’ve chosen to prioritise the money in a different way”.

And so it is with our time. We can smooth things behind “I’m just so busy”, but actually the truth is a more empowering, “I’ve chosen to spend my time with other people on other things”. It’s just that that is not as socially acceptable to convey! “I’ve been so busy” is the handy social nicety that covers up our true priorities.

Having a look at the amount of times you say “I’d love to catch up, I’ve just been so busy!”. It is a wonderful self-awareness exercise. It might be that your balance is really strong and that you have prioritised your time on the activities and relationships that truly matter to you in a way you feel really good about. Or, you may find you have been saying it far more than you would like and to the wrong people. In which case, some important relationships may have fallen by the wayside because you have prioritised other people and tasks that, on reflection, actually mean less to you. That’s an excellent marker to readjust the balance for 2017, so you are saying “I’ve just been so busy” far less to the people of most value in your life.

You can also have a think about how often “I’d love to, but I’ve just been so busy” is said to you! If someone is persistently “too busy” for us, it says far more about the value they place on our relationship than on their schedule. Good to know!

When something is important we generally find a way – whether that’s the unbudgeted money to enable that school trip that little Johnny has his heart set on, or to get the car repaired so we can get to work. We will figure out how to make the dollars work when it’s of high value to us. It’s the same with our time – if it’s really important we will find a way, whether that is calling in the car on the way to the airport at midnight or combining a catch up with a can’t miss it gym session before work or chatting while batch cooking for the week. We can’t do it all, and neither should we try!

There isn’t time for all things and all people, all the time. We do have to choose. We do need to prioritise.

And be comfortable owning those priorities. Some people and things are less important, and that’s okay. We are never really too busy for who and what is truly of high value to us. We will always find a way.